Betsy DeVos is under investigation over whether she violated the Hatch Act when she slammed Joe Biden in a Fox News interview

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US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. Alex Wong/Getty Images
  • Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is the focus of an investigation into whether she violated the Hatch Act, Politico reported on Monday.
  • The investigation centres on comments she made on a Fox News interview in early September slamming Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee.
  • The Hatch Act bars top-level government officials, excluding the president and the vice president, from partaking in political activity.
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Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is the focus of an investigation by the Office of the Special Counsel into whether she violated the Hatch Act when she slammed Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, during an interview with Fox News early this month, Politico reported on Monday.

The Hatch Act is a federal law that bars top-level government employees, excluding the president and the vice president, from partaking in political activity.

Scott Peterson, the head of the investigative watchdog blog Checks and Balances Project, told Politico that Eric Johnson, a Hatch Act attorney in the office, had told him about the investigation.

In the Fox News interview, DeVos criticised Biden for saying he would roll back her school-choice policies.

“Today he’s turned his back on the kids that we’re talking about, and he’s turned his face in favour of the teachers union and what they have to say and what they have to demand, and it’s really shameful,” DeVos said.

Politico reported that the Department of Education also distributed the Fox News clip in an email under the heading “From the Desk of the Secretary.”

The Department of Education did not respond to Business Insider’s request for comment, but a representative told Politico that DeVos “was asked to respond to oft-repeated criticism of her and her policies, and she defended her policies, including discussing the history of that criticism.”

“The Hatch Act does not prohibit that kind of exchange with a journalist. Case closed,” the representative said. “Of course, we will cooperate with OSC, should they choose to open an investigation of this frivolous complaint.”

DeVos is not the first Trump administration official to face scrutiny related to the Hatch Act. Multiple Republican National Convention events — including appearances by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf — were criticised as violating the ethics law.